EPO hosts networking event on workplace inclusivity

myAbility meeting

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On 7 September, the European Patent Office (EPO) proudly hosted a myAbility networking event on workplace inclusivity for people with disabilities. Around 50 participants from companies including Allianz, Generali, Google, ProSieben, Siemens and Warner Bros joined the half-day event. In addition to several keynotes, presentations and panels, it provided a platform for industry leaders to share best practices for a more inclusive workplace. The event marked the EPO's ongoing collaboration with myAbility, a Vienna-based social enterprise committed to a fair and barrier-free society. 

Since 2019, we have actively participated in the myAbility network and its Talent® Programme as part of our D&I initiatives. Our involvement not only supports students and graduates with disabilities in entering the workforce but also includes hosting job-shadowing days. These offer an invaluable glimpse into daily life at the EPO, helping people understand more about specific roles within our organisation.  

Roberta Romano-Götsch, EPO Chief Sustainability Officer, opened the event before handing over to the moderator from myAbility and several speakers. These included Steve Rowan, EPO Vice-President Patent Granting Process, who provided insights into our ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts. Social media blogger Erdin Ciplak, also known as Mr Blindlife, then set the tone for the day with an engaging keynote speech. 

The panel discussion "More Innovation, More Inclusion" featured inspiring speakers. Filipa de Sousa Rocha, 2023 Young Inventors Prize finalist, captivated the audience with her pioneering work in making digital learning more accessible for visually impaired children. Alexander Hausmann, EPO Team Manager, shed light on how innovation can foster greater inclusion. He discussed technologies originally developed for people with disabilities that have since become mainstream, as well as European Inventor Award finalists whose work helps people with disabilities. 

The event enabled meaningful exchanges on workplace inclusivity and disability, featuring testimonials from participants in the myAbility Talent Programme. Both EPO and company representatives found the networking event rewarding and were unanimous in their opinion that it was well worth attending. 

Committed to inclusivity 

Inclusion of all people in their diversity and uniqueness is embedded in the EPO values.  

The EPO Inclusion policy for people with disabilities reflects our vision is to ensure the inclusion of staff with disabilities and facilitate their integration into the Office with the objective of harnessing every colleague’s full potential.  

In December 2022, in the frame of its diversity and inclusion activities, the Office announced the launch of the EPO’s special needs network, an initiative by EPO staff to offers support to colleagues with disabilities and those caring for a child who is severely ill or living with a disability.  

Looking ahead, the EPO will continue its collaboration with myAbility and host the next job shadowing day later this month.